2012 School Census Report

Lunch participation continues to oupace breakfast counts.

FoodService Director’s 2011 School District Census is a snapshot of the K-12 school market, based on information from the 2010-2011 school year, supplied by 50 large, medium and small districts.

Census Highlights

  •  Of the 50 schools in our survey, 48 operate their own foodservice programs, and two contract out the service. The average size of a district in our survey is 85 schools and 47,227 students.

 Buying Locally

  • Food cost for lunch, including commodities, averaged $1.62 among the surveyed schools, equal to last year’s figure. Similarly, the average food cost for breakfast remained at 89 cents. However, schools spent an average of 55 cents on after-school snacks, up from 47 cents last year.


  • On average, 55% of the students attending the schools in the census qualify for either free or reduced-price meals.

 What schools offer

  • 38% of the districts in the census—10 percentage points lower than those in last year’s census—said they operate a summer feeding program, and the number of meals served in the average district was only 5,511, roughly one-third of last year’s figure.
  •  80% of the districts surveyed say they offer vending, but in only 38% of those schools does the foodservice department have full or partial control over vending.


  • Of the districts offering breakfast, only 28% offer breakfast in the classroom to elementary students, 7% to middle school students and 7% to high school students. Among those respondents, on average 15% of the breakfasts served to elementary students, 5% to middle school students and 5% to high school students are eaten in a classroom.

 Breaking down the dayparts

  • 86% of districts surveyed say they offer students a cashless payment option. In those districts, an average of 59% of meals are purchased using this option.
PDF icon 2012-School-Census-Report.pdf

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